Samuel Modeste died on February 6. He was 71. His Funeral Mass was held at St Joseph’s RC Church, Mon Repos, San Fernando on February 13. The following is an edited version of the eulogy delivered by his daughter, Maria.
Samuel was born, the third child of Franklyn and Veronica Modeste, on March 16, 1948. As a child he attended Vistabella Presbyterian School as he lived nearby on Cane Street. Later, he went to the San Fernando Boys’ RC where he became a pupil teacher—an unpaid job, at the age of 15. The teachers would put some funds together to pay him every month, approximately $20.
He was one of the first set of students at Corinth Teachers’ Training College and was called a first Corinthian. Upon his graduation, he became a full-fledged teacher at La Romaine RC.
As a teenager he joined the La Romaine parish’s arm of the Catholic Youth Organisation where he met his beloved wife, Carol.
In 1979, he applied for a new job as a teacher at Cascade School for the Deaf, where he taught for approximately 14 years. After this, he transferred to Pointe-à-Pierre Government Special School. He did certificate courses in Special Education while at Cascade and Pointe-à-Pierre and eventually became the school’s principal at Pointe-à-Pierre. He would stay there until retirement.
As a young man, he was part of a music band playing the conga drums, backing up calypsonians. The music band was called TAG (Titus A Gordon) and Friends.
He was a pan aficionado—he had an ear for music, just by listening to the first few stanzas of music, he could tell the name of the band that was playing. He collected a lot of pan music and had all the Panorama finals for decades back. The day before he fell ill, he spent some time with his son Marlon listening to Pan Elders on Carib Street.
In the 1960s he played mas with J’Ouvert bands in Port of Spain on Carnival Monday, and on Carnival Tuesday with Antillean All Stars on Coffee Street.
He volunteered his time and talent to Combined Disabilities of Trinidad and Tobago, formerly known as Disabled People’s International for over 25 years. Here he assisted as he did at home, doing minor repairs, upgrades at the Cheshire Home for the Disabled, teaching Sign Language and even setting up the PA system for any events.
In retirement, he did many small courses such as plumbing, electrical, glass etching, and photography, joined ALTA and taught Adult Literacy.
Family and Church
Samuel was a man of prayer. He had prayers downloaded on his iPad that he prayed. On mornings, he would sit up in bed to pray and on Saturdays he would meet with mom and me to pray at home. He attended Sunday Mass and would occasionally attend weekday Masses. He assisted in Alpha, an evangelisation group, while remaining faithful to his prayer group, Zion RC Community joining the Men’s Ministry and assisting in their Children’s Ministry. He was also a Lay Minister for several years at Christ the King RC Church, Les Efforts where he would visit the sick at home. Dad had several miraculous recoveries from illnesses. Jesus delivered him through all of these. He was completely healed.
At the age of 60 the furthest point on planet earth Dad had travelled to was Tobago. But that would soon change. He became a world traveller, first by going to Greece, United Kingdom, the Holy Lands and several years Italy, all trips with his wife.
My earliest memory of dad is of his reading bedtime stories to my brother and myself at the age of three. On those nights, I felt safe, secure and at peace. He was the first person to teach me to cook at the age of four. I would be up on a chair helping him make cupcakes using the Betty Crocker cake mix.
In our teens, my brother and I spent countless hours playing Scrabble and building puzzles together with our parents. During the July/August holiday, we would begin our first Scrabble game at 10 a.m. and finish six games later at 2 a.m. the next morning, to begin again, when we awoke.
He was quite close to his sisters. He shopped for them, visited them often and spent many hours building puzzles with them.
Dad passionately loved dogs. Probably the only time I saw him cry was at the passing of our dog Lilly. He also loved plants especially orchids. He was an active member of the Horticultural Society of T&T—Southern Branch.
Dad willingly gave of his time, talent and treasure to his community and his family. We are grateful for knowing you Samuel and for sharing your life with us.
As Christians, we believe that the dead shall one-day rise with Christ. As the prophet Job says, if my flesh be destroyed, with these eyes, I will see God. Today we do not say goodbye Samuel, but “until we meet again”.